HIDE US FROM THE WRATH OF THE LAMB

Jerusalem cavesPMT 2015-093 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my last article I noted the moving mountains in Revelation and how they do not speak of a literal tectonic movements. That passage is easily applied to the Roman warfare method during the Jewish War. But similarly, the calling upon the mountains to fall also speaks of the circumstances of the Jewish War.

Rev 6:17 reads:

“They said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’”

Men hiding in caves is easy enough to understand in a literal fashion. But we need to realize how important a feature this becomes in the Jewish War. Its appearance in Revelation is not a simple matter of local color; it was an issue of great significance. Josephus records many instances showing how the caves and caverns were used by the Jews in attempts to escape the wrath of the Roman armies, for example:


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“And on this day it was that the Romans slew all the multitude that appeared openly; but on the following days they searched the hiding-places, and fell upon those that were under ground, and in the caverns” (War 3:7:36).

“So now the last hope which supported the tyrants, and that crew of robbers who were with them, was in the caves and caverns under ground; whither, if they could once fly, they did not expect to be searched for; but endeavored, that after the whole city should be destroyed, and the Romans gone away, they might come out again, and escape from them. This was no better than a dream of theirs; for they were not able to lie hid either from God or from the Romans. However, they depended on these under-ground subterfuges” (War 6:7:3).

“This Simon, during the siege of Jerusalem, was in the upper city; but when the Roman army was gotten within the walls, and were laying the city waste, he then took the most faithful of his friends with him, and among them some that were stone-cutters, with those iron tools which belonged to their occupation, and as great a quantity of provisions as would suffice them for a long time, and let himself and all them down into a certain subterraneous cavern that was not visible above ground” (War 7:2:1).


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Contrary to Jewish hopes, the mountains were not immovable, nor were the caverns impenetrable. As Revelation 6:16–17 warns: “They said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?’” Their escape efforts fail, as Josephus notes:

“They did not expect to be searched for; but endeavored, that after the whole city should be destroyed, and the Romans gone away, they might come out again, and escape from them. This was no better than a dream of theirs; for they were not able to lie hid either from God or from the Romans” (War 6:7:3).

“The Romans slew some of them, some they carried captives, and others they made a search for under ground, and when they found where they were, they broke up the ground and slew all they met with” (War 6:9:4).

“Now, so far as had been digged of old, they went onward along it without disturbance; but where they met with solid earth, they dug a mine under ground, and this in hopes that they should be able to proceed so far as to rise from under ground in a safe place, and by that means escape. But when they came to make the experiment, they were disappointed of their hope; for the miners could make but small progress, and that with difficulty also; insomuch that their provisions, though they distributed them by measure, began to fail them” (War 7:2:1).

They cannot hide from the presence of God nor the wrath of the Lamb, for none is “able to stand”(Rev. 6:17). John’s prophecy parallels Jesus’ earlier one in Luke 23:28-30: “Jesus turning to them said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us,” and to the hills, “Cover us.”’”

Once again, John’s prophecy finds adequate and relevant fulfillment in the first century Jewish War.

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3 thoughts on “HIDE US FROM THE WRATH OF THE LAMB

  1. Mike August 3, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    So what differences do you see between this passage in Revelation and Christ’s command in Matthew 24:15-16?: “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” Different mountains? Different time?

  2. Kenneth Gentry August 4, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Jesus is warning them to escape before these events happen. The Jerusalem church community fled Jerusalem as the Jewish War broke out, apparently after the first surrounding of the temple by Cestius Gallus. After Gallus dropped his siege and left the region, the Jews prepared for war while the Christians largely fled Jerusalem to the mountains.

  3. Mike August 5, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Good answer. Another difference is, not being tied to “the present Jerusalem” (Gal. 4:23), the Christians were willing to flee further, ending up north of Jerusalem on the other side of the Jordan in Pella, according to Eusebius.

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